Dark Woods, Deep Water

In the depths of a remote forest, an enchanted castle preys on unwary travellers.

The servants of the Goddess Morana sacrifice to their dark mistress every soul who crosses the castle’s threshold. One terrible night, three people who should never have met find themselves trapped there: a spoiled lady escaping an unwanted marriage, an ageing warrior-prince on a deadly mission, and a resourceful rogue caught up in a botched heist. As their destinies entwine and the dawn approaches, the solution to the castle’s riddle becomes clear: if they want to escape, one of them must die.

A dark fantasy tale inspired by Slavic folklore, DARK WOODS, DEEP WATER is the debut novel by Croatian author Jelena Dunato. Set in an intricately imagined world that staggers the line between fairytale and brutality, this novel will appeal to fans of Katherine Arden and Naomi Novik, as well as lovers of classic Gothic fiction.

Dark Woods, Deep Water will be published by Ghost Orchid Press in September 2023.

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Praise for Dark Woods, Deep Water

“DARK WOODS, DEEP WATER is an enthralling dark fantasy with a gritty, gothic heart. There are no heroes here: instead the characters’ varying shades of villainy fit perfectly into this horror-laced tale. Nail-biting, grisly, and genuinely chilling.”

 Jess Hyslop, author of Miasma

“Dark Woods, Deep Water drew me into its spell, weaving its beautiful threads around me until I looked up and realized I’d been reading long past the time I should have been asleep. From the first page, I knew I’d follow these characters into whatever dangers lay in wait. A gorgeous, layered, compelling tale in a world both familiar and strange.”

 Kate Heartfield, bestselling author of The Embroidered Book

An eerie, fascinating tale, which – like all great stories – retains its mystery even after the last page is turned. We meet characters of varying motives and complexity, each of whom is compelling and, above all, real. The liminal world Dunato has created, with its rich seams of Slavic folklore, makes Dark Woods, Deep Water an extraordinary novel and its author one to watch. I have a new favourite.”

Lucy Holland, author of Sistersong 

“Dark Woods, Deep Water is a treasure buried on the bottom of a murky ocean–the sort of Slavic fantasy I’ve always searched for, but rarely found. Set in a world inspired by the Eastern Adriatic where vengeful gods trap lost travellers in crumbling, haunted castles hidden in snowy forests, this novel was atmospheric, creepy, both fast paced and intricately built.”

Genoveva Dimova, author of Foul Days